Spinner Max Shepherd – 13 wickets in the match to help bowl Devon to promotion<br>credit: Conrad Sutcliffe - no re-use without copyright owner's consent

Day One | Day Two


MAX Shepherd bowled Devon to the Western Division Two title with a 13-wicket haul in the innings win over Wiltshire that clinched promotion into the top tier of National Counties cricket.

Shepherd, a left-arm spinner dual registered with Gloucestershire and Devon, was the star of the show on day two with a five-wicket clutch that gave Devon a 177-run first innings lead and forced Wiltshire to follow-on.

Wiltshire were nine for one overnight batting second time around – Shepherd taking the one wicket – and resumed on the third and final day needing to make 178 to make Devon bat again. They got nowhere near it.

Shepherd came back into the attack once the shine had gone from the ball and single-handedly reduced Wiltshire from 65 for three to 99 all out. Some sticky fingered catching – step forward James Horler, Adam Small and Matt Thompson in particular – hastened Wiltshire’s demise.

Shepherd had five for 32 in the first innings and eight for 40 in the second for match stats of 13 for 72. They are the best match figures booked by any Devon bowler in two decades of three-day cricket, beating the 12 for 64 taken by Ian Bishop against Cornwall in 2001.Calum Haggett with the Geoff Evans Cup awarded to the player of the season. He averaged more than 70 with the bat in three-day cricket and took 10 wickets at less than 17 runs each

Bishop still holds the three-day record for a single innings return through the nine for 35 he claimed against Wales at Exmouth in 2006.

Wiltshire were all out for 99 in their second innings, which gave Devon victory by an innings and 78 runs. An innings win always looked on the cards after Devon amassed 402 all out on day one with Thompson making 128 and sizeable contributions from Elliot Hamilton (84) and Calum Haggett, who was run out for 98.

Division One cricket will be a step-up for Devon, who have not played at that level since 2019 and only have a handful of players remaining from those days.

Devon have a young side – five of the side that defeated Wiltshire were 23 or under – but youth is no disadvantage in the eyes of team boss Dave Tall.

“We were comfortably the best team in our group and played proper cricket,” said Tall.

“Had we not had one bad hour on the second day against Wales, which cost us the ganme, we probably would have won the division sooner.

“Having won our group so comfortably, I would say we are ready for the next level up.

“There are always areas that can be improved – we are still in the infancy of our learning curve – but this group of players still has plenty of improvement in them.”

Devon won three games on the spin to finish top of the table, which Tall said was largely due to the mindset of the players.

“The concentration and discipline of the players has been spot on all season – apart from that hour at Abergavenny – and we have been on the money in all our games,” said Tall.

“When I look at where we were this time last year – winless and bottom of the table – we have gelled as a team beyond my wildest dreams.”

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The promotion-winning squad after the victory over Wiltshire